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development of a tracking software



4:57 pm on Nov 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


with tedster I discussed the benefit of a skript/trackingware in london with the following functions:

- grabs the referrer-string if a visitor enters the site (index or any other page)
- compares the referring-host to an entry in a db_table e.g.
ID referring host
1 google.com
2 adserver.addomain.com
3 de.overture.com

- sets a cookie for the visitor saving a session-id and the id of the referring-domain
- grabs the keywords typed in (in case the visitor comes from a searchengine) and saves the keywordstring in the cookie.
- if a page is loaded that indicates the sale/lead (e.g. the thankyou.htm) the script reads out the cookie and saves the following information in the database:
+1 visitor count, from which referrer it came, the keywords it typed, +1 sale count (related to referrer and keyword)

- if the visitor leaves the site without doing a sale the script saves everything but the +1 count of the sale.

- after a while the user can make the following queries:
- visitors, sales and conversionrates according to referring-host (e.g. how many from google, how many from lycos, etc.)
- visitors, sales and conversionrates according to specific keyword-strings

- if possible the script provides some basic clustering for example clustering KEYWORD keyword and Keyword as keyword.

I think the benefit of this trackingware is great. Especially poeple working with PPP-SEs, CPC-Deals and SEO have a benefit.

I need this tool urgently!

Now my questions to the community:

- Does this exist already (poor man who reinvents the wheel!)
- If not, who would be interested in sharing the expenses of the investment.

jeremy goodrich

6:26 pm on Nov 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jeremy_goodrich is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Sounds like a great idea. I don't know of any on the market, I do know of one or two that will do that, but they also do more stuff for you, hence a pretty hefty setup fee / ongoing monthly fee.


6:29 pm on Nov 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator jatar_k is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I don't know any either, what language re you contemplating. It really isn't very difficult and shouldn't take a monstrous amount of resources.

You need php/perl, a db and a little time and she's done.


1:51 pm on Nov 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Actually Apache web server already does most of this out-of-the-box. They only thing it doesn't do is generate the reports. If you want to track the information, and you're using Apache, then just do the following:

1. Enable of Install the mod_usertrack module.
2. Modify your httpd.conf to include the new mod_usertrack cookie in the log file. (add this to the end of the LogFormat line you are using \"%{Cookie}n\")
3. Restart your web server.

Now each visitor coming to your site will automatically get a cookie dropped in their browser. Whenever they visit your web site, that cookie will be entered in to your log file. Now just generate some reports from the log file.

If you have SSH or Telnet access to your box, you can use grep to generate some simple reports. Also, I think the latest version of IIS has something similar.

Black Knight

7:56 pm on Nov 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This level of tracking is simple enough to handle with JavaScript if you wanted - I could modify my own JavaScript tracking cookie to handle this within two hours.

Be careful with cookies though. Many many sites get cookies wrong, setting far too many of them, when the total amount of saved data would have fit in the (roughly) 4,000 character limit of a single cookie.

Cookies have a bad rep, whether we like it or not. It is therefore essential to bug the user as little as possible, allowing them to choose to accept or reject cookies more easily. None of the stuff where every page you visit in the site keeps asking to set multiple cookies.

I have prompting enabled for cookies. A good site recognises my opening page request (see if the referrer host is from another domain) and then sets a master cookie. That master cookie is there to record whether the user is rejecting cookies.

From then on (where referrer host for each page request is from your own domain) you only attempt to write a cookie if they have accepted the master cookie. If not, you don't want to make them keep rejecting the cookies until they either permanently block your site, or simply leave in disgust at your impolite cookie behaviour.


10:37 am on Nov 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

hello and thanks for the great answers,
I would go for php and mysql - it is the technology i really like. approved, available, stable (like a vw beetle).
could you programm this yourself?

black knight:
thanks for the offer, I appreciate it. I guess your solution is client-side?!
It is ironic that 98% of the browsers use JavaScript but still we had huge problems with javascript-based form-validation. So I'd rather go for the server-side.

Be careful with cookies though. Many many sites get cookies wrong, setting far too many of them, when the total amount of saved data would have fit in the (roughly) 4,000 character limit of a single cookie.

Cookies have a bad rep, whether we like it or not.

I am absolutely with you. I don't like them myself. But here comes the problem: I've been using a solution (had half of the functions described above) that worked with Session-IDs. these were killed many times because on that site there is a framebased-solution where the user enters another domain and comes back. (something like an online-calculator).

to avoid this problem we echoed (php) the session-id on specific pages. RESULT: googlebot didn't follow the links and we lost 100 detailpages. I have now completely cancelled everything. tracking is nice, but once you loose traffic you don't care about it anymore...

the second problem is: without a cookie you never come close to the real amount of users. remember the stuff tedster told us about the AOL-IPs changing within a session.

plus: we most remember, some of us are real teckies, most of us more or less but compared to the JOHN Q. Public webuser we are all pretty much specialists. Thus, how many users do even know what a cookie is?

I am convinced that the expression cookie in my country is pretty more often associated with a weed-biscuit than with internet-technology. :-)


11:28 am on Nov 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

HyperTracker can supposedly do what you're trying to achieve, but I never looked to seriously into it since it's a 3rd party solution requiring a monthly subscription fee.

If you develop a flat fee script solution I'd certainly be interested.


11:44 am on Nov 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

OK, I'd like to get a little concreter here:
- who of you would be able to programm it and interested in the project?
- who is interested in sharing the investment and the result?

As far as technology I'd prefer php/mysql!

Dante_Maure: your reply brought me a good idea: what about developing something that works on one server and can be easily implemented in any external website (customenrs, other sites) even if this site has no php/mysql)

-> i am not thinking of becoming a hypertracker-competitor but it would be fantastic to run your tracking on one central server.

I don't want to violate webmasterworld policy here - so you may stickymail if you think your answer is inapropriate in any way. :-)


12:18 pm on Nov 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

what about developing something that works on one server and can be easily implemented in any external website

Actually, that's the very reason I didn't investigate HyperTracker any further. Personally, I'm not at all interested in handling my needs with off site solutions.

But then again, I'm something of a control freak. ;)


1:16 pm on Nov 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

i think you took me wrong. i wanted to say: it's gonna be your software running on a server you control. but then you can implement many other domains you own (or your customers own) in order to have a central control over all your campaigns.

i had a look on hypertracker: what they promise sounds very interesting - a little bit to much of hardcore-selling on their website for my gusto though. :)

the most important thing: tracking the click to sale ratio (conversionrate) according to keywords users typed in the searchengine is not mentioned as a feature.

i sent an email to the support to ask about this. unfortunately it's sunday and they not gonna answer by tomorrow.

in any case i am more interested in something that is developed according to our individual needs.


1:02 am on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Ahhhh... Gotcha. :)

Having the option to run multiple domain's campaigns from one control panel might be a nice added feature.

You may be right about HyperTracker not supporting that feature.. I believe their system works entirely by creating your own individual campaign tags (e.g.?overture_keyword1).


1:58 am on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

We use Hypertracker and it does indeed do exactly what you want it to do.

Because it's PHP based it loads very quickly, even on big campaigns.

You can download results over a period of up to 6 months as a CSV file.

One of the suggestions we put forward that has been implemented was the ability to add sales manually, because not everyone uses a shopping cart facility on their site for sales.

It's useful for monitoring things like newsletter sign-ups. It can also track impressions as clicks if you want to have a running total on those for PPC on engines that don't provide that sort of information either at all, or on an ongoing basis. You might also want to monitor any affiliate schemes you belong to, where you feel that the stats may be inaccurate.

Admittedly, it could be a pain if the company providing it went out of business. The monthly amount is neglible. If you have something already as an alternative, then fine, but it would be too time-consuming for us to develop a solution from scratch.

Adminder is another solution that offers similar sort of functionality, but it is dreadfully slow for the interface to load and it doesn't handle some PPC as well as Hypertracker.


2:02 am on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

It is entirely possible to use HyperTracker for multiple client scenarios, although it's far more practical for each client to have their own account details.

If anyone wants to see the sort of detail that can be obtained from a live account drop me a sticky and I'll provide a login for a campaign, so you can see it on real data, rather than sales pitch stuff.


1:04 pm on Nov 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I went for a test-account with hypertracker! I must admit that they cover 90% of what I wanted and i am pretty happy with the performance.

nonetheless hypertracker does not provide the tracking of conversionrates (C2S) according to keywords someone typed in a non-PPP-Engine.

why? hypertracker does not track any referring they use different tracking-urls for each campaign. so for purpose of tracking keyword-related C2S with PPP-Engines
you may start seperate campaign for each keyword and track the campaigns to different tracking-urls.

then just could assume that the C2S are the same with normal searchengines but this is not sure!

for the poeple who do not run any PPP-campaigns this system won't work.